Baccellieri: MLB’s Statcast can break sabermetrics

From Emma Baccellieri at Deadspin on December 18, 2017:

“On a historical basis, a decade from now, we’ll be looking back saying, ‘That was the highest route efficiency that’s ever been captured in baseball.’”

That’s what Joe Inzerillo—the executive vice president and chief technology officer of MLB Advanced Media—said in a league press release announcing baseball’s revolutionary new player-tracking system, Statcast. It hasn’t quite been a decade since that quote; it hasn’t quite, in fact, been three years. But route efficiency, the metric in question, has already disappeared.

Using a combination of cameras and radar to track the ball in every position it reaches as well as every player on the field at all times, offering a theoretically perfect or at least perfectible view of every game played in every major-league season, Statcast offers nearly limitless possibilities for baseball analysis by producing an incredible amount of raw data, some of which is packaged into specific metrics designed by a team of people at MLBAM. There are statistics meant to help others make sense of the information, statistics meant to work as storytelling tools, statistics meant to create additional layers of meaning and context for this vast new knowledge base, and statistics meant to fulfill varying combinations of these functions. When Statcast was rolled out across the league and to the public in 2015, route efficiency was among the most prominent of these metrics, aiming to capture, more or less, just what its name described—how efficient a route an outfielder took to get to a ball, with 0 percent being the least efficient and 100 percent being the most.

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Originally published: December 18, 2017. Last Updated: December 18, 2017.